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Study finds students feel safe -

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ELEANOR HALL: Foreign students have rated Australia as the safest place in the world to study in a
survey of 6,000 students from eight countries.

That's despite the recent international media coverage of attacks on Indian students in Australia.

The survey results on Australia's $12.5 billion education export industry were released at an
education conference in Sydney today.

Bronwyn Herbert was there.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Despite the negative reports of bashing and abuse, Australia has topped a poll on
international student safety.

TONY POLLOCK: We surveyed some 6,000 students around the world, including 1,100 students in India.
The main purpose was to found out how they thought about Australia in comparison to other English
speaking destinations.

The somewhat surprising result and indeed promising result is that they believe Australia to be the
safest destination of all the English speaking destinations and by quite a margin. I must say I'm a
little surprise that that's still holding so strongly in India, given all the publicity that we've
had over the last three or four months about safety and security in Australia.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Tony Pollock is the chief executive of IDP Education, which commissioned the
study.

The survey also revealed that students ranked the United States and Britain far above Australia in
terms of educational prestige.

Australia topped the rankings in access to student visas and permanent residency.

But Tony Pollock says with government changes made to the visa process, this is likely to impact on
future recruitment numbers.

TONY POLLOCK: It is making the visa process somewhat longer and somewhat more cumbersome for
students, so we suspect that that's going to have some negative impact over the next few months.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Tony Pollock says IDP, which works with 400 institutions across Australia and
takes in 35,000 students, is bracing for a big drop in Indian student enrolments early next year.

TONY POLLOCK: In our India offices we're expecting our 2010 February intake to be down by about 50
per cent. I would say this is not entirely due, in my view, to the discussion about safety and
security. There are other factors at work as well. We have the GFC (global financial crisis) which
has obviously impacted upon families in India and that's evident by the fact that the applications
for other countries are way down, particularly the United States.

BRONWYN HERBERT: The survey results were released today at the opening of the Australian
International Education Conference, where more than 1,300 people are attending.

Professor Michelle Barker is a Professor of Management at Griffith University. She says the survey
results are good news for a change.

MICHELLE BARKER: That's wonderful that students are recognising, and parents particularly when
they're sending their children overseas to study, that they'll say, yes they can get on with the
study when they're there, that their personal safety is not going to be compromised.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Cassandra Colvin is the manager of International Student Support at Murdoch
University.

CASSANDRA COLVIN: What's happened in the last year is you will have noticed that there's a lot more
engagement now between institutions and the broader community, such as police, and that was really
in response to recent issues and that's all improved student experience.

BRONWYN HERBERT: Dr Amanda Daly is an academic developer from the University of South Australia.

She says universities are now recognising much more needs to be done in educating local students on
integrating with their foreign counterparts.

AMANDA DALY: Particularly, my work is focused a lot on the local students and encouraging them to
develop the intercultural competence. At Uni SA we work on a graduate attribute of
internationalisation and we encourage all students to develop intercultural competence and
international perspectives. So I think it's very important that our local students develop the
skills to know how to interact with the incoming students and that in turn impacts on their career
development.

BRONWYN HERBERT: IDP Education says despite the short-term shocks in enrolments, it's still
predicting eight per cent growth in the next year.

ELEANOR HALL: Bronwyn Herbert reporting.